Time to change Iran volleyball main squad

September 23, 2019

TEHRAN - Iran national volleyball team are going to take part in the 2019 FIVB World Cup with their main players while experts are worried about consequences of Igor Kolakovic’s decision to use the same squad in successive events.

Iran recently lifted the Asian trophy at home with their main players and less than a week after the event’s final, they again have to prepare for another important world competition, 2019 FIVB World Cup.

Amir Khoshkhabar, the team’s manager, told Mehr news agency on Sunday that 14 players who were part of the team in Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship will be dispatched to Japan for the World Cup. He said that Mohammad Mousavi has asked not to be part of the team in the upcoming competition.

“I’m neither injured nor there is any other issue; my body just needs more rest,” Mousavi, the Asian Championship’s best middle blocker, told Fars news agency on Monday on his decision.  

“We are soldiers of Team Melli and whenever coaches ask, we should play. Any decision by coaches is respectable and we should follow it. I think the team is doing a good job in giving space to the young players but I believe technical staff can do more in this regard,” Mousavi added.

Iran have used almost the same squad in the past several years under Igor kolakovic, raising criticism from experts in the field that he may be putting the future of Iran volleyball at risk.

 “We should not seek podium in the World Cup and we should set the stage for younger players because in the near future we will need most of these younger athletes. The belief and confidence should be injected into the youth through formation change and what a better place than FIVB World Cup to take the risk of doing this,” Jabbar Ghouchannejad, a volleyball expert told Mehr news agency on Sunday.

“We should provide more space for the youth so that we can use them in major competitions like Olympics qualifiers and even in the Olympics in case the main players suffer from fatigue or injuries.”

“Players such as Saeid Marouf, Amir Ghafour, Mousavi, and Milad Ebadipour need to rest and we should not put pressure on them more than usual,” he said, adding, “Every individual has a different line of thinking. Igor doesn’t have the courage to change and I think he is making a mistake.”

Iran volleyball technical staff have repeatedly said that their main is to secure a berth to 2020 Tokyo Olympics; the qualifications will be held in China’s Jiangmen on January 7-12 where the team have to compete with top eight Asian rivals to win the event and secure their second presence in Olympics after 2016 Rio.

The Iranian team will start training again on Tuesday for 2019 FIVB World Cup which is going to be held in Japan from October 1 to 15. A total of 12 teams which are top two teams of each continent, plus Japan as hosts and Poland as World champions, will compete in the World Cup in a round-robin format. So, Iran have to play 11 high-pressure matches which will start with an encounter against 2019 VNL’s winners Russia on October 1.

Fielding top guns in an event where the team have little chance of podium certainly increases the risk of injuries.

It also should be noted that Kolakovic has not totally eliminated the younger players. He invited the MPV of 2019 FIVB Men's U21 World Championship, Amir Hossein Esfandiar, to Team Melli for the first time in the Asian event and he proved his qualities in this competition.

The coach has also trusted some younger talents like Mohammadreza Hazratpour, Aliasghar Mojarad, Porya Yali, and Javad Karimi who have not let him down with their world-class performances.

What experts say is that giving the younger generation a chance to experience world-class events would give them the courage and confidence to build a shinier future for Iran volleyball.

By: Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

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